Yes, they really did all of these.
“The 10 Most Insane Medical Practices in History.”
Reading that reminded me of one of the unexpectedly difficult things about writing Ashes: dealing with Jack as a doctor. The character is an intelligent, inquisitive man absolutely dedicated to practicing the best medicine he possibly can — but let’s face it, the guy lives in the second half of the seventeenth century. His idea of cutting-edge medical science is using Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the blood to improve bloodletting techniques.
Jack is probably my favorite character in the whole book, but I wouldn’t let him within a hundred feet of me if I were sick. And yet I had to write lines describing how he’s trying to save somebody’s life by way of techniques that probably made things worse.
Note to time-travellers: if you ever get thrown back into European history prior to, say, the twentieth century, you’re better off refusing a physician entirely than letting one of them treat you. The body has this lovely thing called the immune system, and it stands a better chance of saving your life than any of them do.